RLL seeks to conquer Barber’s flowing nature, and improve qualifying

Leave a comment

For as diverse and detailed a history as Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has in the Verizon IndyCar Series, they haven’t yet found much success at Barber Motorsports Park. Put that down primarily to a lack of opportunity.

This year marks RLL’s third crack at the picturesque Birmingham, Ala. circuit, and the latest chance for the team to find those extra couple tenths in qualifying that could make their Sundays easier.

Graham Rahal’s best Barber effort came two years ago, a spirited and fighting effort from eighth on the grid to fourth then driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. Teammate Oriol Servia went from sixth to fifth for Newman/Haas Racing in 2011 as his best Barber weekend.

Rahal, though, needs to improve his qualifying starting this weekend. With grid positions of 21st and 23rd in the first two races, Rahal has left himself a bunch of work on Sundays. Granted, he’s made two brilliant starts at both St. Petersburg and Long Beach, but he would probably prefer to be starting better from higher up on the grid in the No. 15 National Guard Honda.

“It shows we have the race craft and the pace to be up front, but we must qualify better,” Rahal admitted in the team’s pre-race advance. “In St. Pete I made a huge mistake and I think Long Beach we simply struggled. Again though, when it comes time to race we can run with anyone.”

Servia, who is in his second of four scheduled races in the second car, the No. 16 Honda, at least has the baseline of testing at Barber earlier this year and now a full race weekend complete back with the RLL team.

“Unfortunately what was supposed to be a two-day test ended up being shortened to just one afternoon which was barely enough to get my rust off from the long winter,” said the Catalan, who impressed by qualifying 12th and finishing seventh at Long Beach. “Now coming here with one full race weekend under our belts I feel much better prepared and ready to grab the bull by the horns!”

You can see how well the RLL pair does starting at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
Leave a comment

SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.